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Federico Riva

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Online ESL Game Design Workshop for Teachers

Online ESL Game Design Workshop for Teachers | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Hello everybody and welcome to the ITTT weekly live stream. It's Liza here and I'm super excited that this stream happens every week and we can talk about teaching and TEFL and stuff like that. So welcome and thank you for joining me.

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Today, we are going to talk about online ESL game design. Last week I started showing you the game I was designing, it was Monopoly. Today I'm going to show you the outcome of the game and also tell you a little bit more about online game design.

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Thanks a lot for letting me know that you are watching and right now please let me know at what stage of your ESL career you are at. As for me, I'm an online ESL teacher currently. I used to teach in a real classroom several years ago, but then I decided to switch to the online mode of teaching at the beginning of the pandemic and I found that this way is more suitable for me. What about you guys? I hope that you'll give me some responses so that I can share them with everybody. Probably some of you are new to ESL teaching or online teaching in general and that's awesome because you can start from scratch and start implementing different techniques, methodologies and everything.

Okay, so Gwendolyn is sharing her experience currently. So she is a TEFL certified teacher, that's great to know, thanks Gwendoline. I'm so pleased that so many professionals are coming to these live streams. Let me just quickly change the slide and make it a bit bigger. I think this live stream will be devoted to game design at the very beginning and then I will switch to my online game that I prepared for this particular presentation. I will go a little bit deeper and let you know how it works and how to play it with your students. At the very end of the session I will share this game I have prepared for you. So stay with me until the end of the session and you will get this awesome template. I think everybody will benefit from having this template because it's actually quite time consuming to create online games, so I think it will be useful for you.

I prepared some stats for you. I created a poll on YouTube and asked our followers about online ESL games. I wanted to find out how many people actually tried to play ESL games during their online ESL sessions. It turns out that a lot of people use online games and this is just awesome because games help us to connect with our students at the highest level. Of course there are also some people who don't use online games at all and there are some who want to try and I hope that after this session you will be interested to try online ESL games with your English students.

Hello guys, thank you for coming, I'm really pleased. Let's see what's next, so why should we try to use online ESL games, not necessarily online games but just games in general for our ESL classes? So the very first reason would be relationship building. As I have already mentioned, it helps us teachers to connect with the students because through the game we can train our soft skills and help students to open up. It also helps to motivate our students. Usually when they stick to theoretical ways of practicing English it can make them bored and then they quickly lose their motivation and interest. When we solely focus on the ordinary way of explaining things it's just a bit tiresome, right?

So using games in our lessons is extremely important as it also helps us to vary the classroom dynamics. For example, if you start your lesson with a game it helps your students to get involved and then when you transition to something more theoretical it's easier for them to keep focused. The last point which is probably the most crucial one is that games help us to activate our new skills in a really natural manner. So when we play games we practice real life skills without understanding that we are actually practicing something that we have just learned. For example, yesterday when I played a game with one of my students she was really happy that I offered her a slightly different way to practice modal verbs. She has been feeling a bit frustrated on the point of modal verbs and I noticed that she understands everything completely, but when it comes to real practice she may go blank and just forget some of the usages. So that game helped a lot on the point of explaining some intermediate level grammar.

A bit later on I will show you how it actually worked as I filmed a part of the lesson and I will also let you know about some of the drawbacks, because of course we have something really good in the game approach, however, there still are some disadvantages. By the way, right now you can see this QR code. You can actually scan it and get to the ITTT website where you will get a 30% discount on any online TEFL course. So if you guys want to start your teaching career or maybe transition from classroom teaching to online teaching, this incentive will be really beneficial for you.

When we talk about the types of online games, there are two main groups. So group A would be without preparation games and group B would be preparation games. Both of them can be used at whatever lesson stage you like, so it usually depends on your goals and on the lesson objectives. However, from my point of view those games which don't require you to prepare that much are better used at the beginning of your lessons. For example, some warmers where you don't need to create any visual aids, you can just think of a really easy engaging activity and it can be played without any preparation.

One example that I tried to play with different levels of students was related to their names. So I asked them to take their name, look at the letters in the name and then come up with the meaning of their names. For example, my name is Liza and I've got four letters. L stands for little, I stands for, Z stands for zippy, and A stands for actress. My students get so excited about this simple activity and they start thinking in English. With lower levels of students it's a great idea to practice using a dictionary. For example, yesterday I played that very game with a 10 year-old and I asked her if she had a dictionary and if she ever used it. It turned out that she had a dictionary but she didn't really have a chance to use it. So that was the way we practiced that necessary skill. We also had some fun and we connected a little bit more.

As for the second group which is games that require preparation, they from my personal point of view are more suitable for activating stages of your lessons. But again, it's up to you because it is you who knows the student and understands their abilities, their challenges, and objectives. When we talk about online ESL game resources, when we don't want to be creative or we don't want to spend much time on creating our games, I would recommend these three resources. Word Wall, Learning Apps, and Games to Learn English. These websites have engaging activities and interesting games to help your students work on particular problems. For example, on Word Wall you can find a lot of materials made by other teachers specifically for some grammar points or vocabulary activities. The same goes for Learning Apps and Games to Learn English, however, the last one focuses more on vocabulary games.

I can see that someone has just sent me an angry emoji, what's wrong guys, let me know in the chat box? I hope you don't get mad with me because of my words or something like that and as for my replies I will check out the comments section a little bit later. Maybe at the end of the main presentation and I will try my best to answer you. So don't get mad, we are all people here. Okay, now I also want to tell you a bit more about designing games with your own hands. It is also possible but it takes more time, especially when you want to create a really impressive board game like the Monopoly one that I did last week. But there are also a lot of templates and worksheets on Google pictures for example. You can use them as a part of your online ESL classroom. It also will be an online game but you will just use a paper worksheet on your online whiteboard for example. It's a different approach, but it's also useful so why not?

Last week I told you that I prefer to use two useful tools to create my online lessons and games and they are Miro and Kanban. But I have also found out that ESL teachers create extremely beautiful lessons with Powerpoint and it's just mind-blowing because they create such amazing content. I'll show you right now, but just a quick reminder that Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard that you can use to create your workspace and share it with your students. It can be shared with a classroom or with a single student. So if you work with the whole classroom you can do that on Miro as well and I combine it with Zoom because Miro's video chat is only accessible on the paid version. I don't pay for Miro because I just think that all of the features that are presented in the free version are enough for me, but again it is up to you. I also like to create templates and simple designs on Canva. It's super useful for worksheets and lesson plans, they have beautiful designs and you can also add features like this one for example. So if you want to find beautiful images, Canva is something to use. This presentation is actually made on Canva as well.

As for Canva, here is a screenshot from my workspace, so this template is free in the pro version. Canva also has different types of subscriptions and I use the pro. So I pay for Canva but I believe there is also a free version which has a limited number of functions but is still really useful and convenient. Okay, so you basically find the template based on your objectives and just edit it and add your content and that's all. You can print it or save it as a pdf image and whatever you need.

This is what I meant on Microsoft Powerpoint. So this is a game created by an ESL teacher with Microsoft Powerpoint, it's just amazing. Basically it's like a coloring worksheet but an interactive one. You ask your student to name a word from the picture, then you click on it or you ask your student to click on that word and this is the way you color the whole picture, just amazing. I don't know personally how to create such presentations but I'm going to figure that out because it's super useful. I really want to learn the skill and I know that powerpoint has a lot of sophisticated features and you don't have to pay for any of them because Powerpoint is free on your Microsoft computer.

Okay, so this is the outcome of my Monopoly design, I will transition to the board right now so that you can see how it works. Basically you can collaborate and create on Miro, you don't need any other tools for that because it has all of the features that are necessary for creating and for playing. However, there is one problem which actually lies on the surface. It's actually quite troublesome to find some apps and some tools for Miro because the features they share on their community are mostly under the paid subscription. So you need to search online for some plugins and this is actually how I found two useful plugins. I have shared them here as well so at the end of the session I will send you a link to this presentation and you will be able to download and install all of these plugins.

For this game design I used the real Monopoly rules and the real Monopoly game board and basically the whole game is actually like the real one but with my own content. Now I want to go to the Miro board and show you what the game looks like, so let me change the sharing feature and here we go. So this is my Miro board and I actually prepared not just one game for you but to show you how you can also change your games and how you can come up with ideas. So let's just zoom in and look at this game closer. As I have already mentioned I used a real Monopoly board template, I just used the Google search which is here and I typed in something like Monopoly board and just added that board on my Miro board. I then started editing it. I also added this dice picture and these community chest places. If you have already tried to play Monopoly you know that it starts on this section and you have to go left as the arrow shows you. I changed all of the original pictures to the ones that I needed and I added pictures of different streets and created names for those streets. For example, this one is Happy Street, then Careful Street, so various names using different adjectives because I wanted to focus this lesson on the vocabulary I have been working on with my intermediate level student.

So these are different adjectives describing feelings, so I thought that this way would be really easy for my student to remember the difficult words for some of the feelings and it actually worked out. She really enjoyed playing and she was like oh I don't want to buy Miserable Street, I want to buy Hopeful Street but it's so expensive so maybe next time. It was really fun. I also used some of the original rules like choose a token, toss a dice, it's really simple but I did change the way you pay taxes for example and the way you get salary and rent. I also used the real rules for the jail and for this chance card and community chest card. Luckily my student had played this game before and she knew some of the rules. The rules she didn't know I just explained to her before we started.

I also chose these beautiful tokens, so if you want to change them it's super simple. You go to Google images and search for png images. You need to add png because if you don't you will get pictures with the background and you want to make sure it's without the background, like this. This is also a way you can connect with your student. If you know some of the characters your students like it's a great idea to use them in your game and let your student play the character that they really like and admire. I also use real pictures of the banknotes because that helped my student with words related to money and counting.

Let's move on to the community chest and chance cards. This is actually something challenging about Miro itself because if you don't know where to find those plugins you basically don't have the pieces on your board and you can't playwithout them. Otherwise you have to look for some additional programs and move from one tab on your computer to another and that's not that convenient. I was so lucky to find this dice feature and this card feature. So there is no dice in the free subscription and as far as I know the dice that is in the paid version is actually not that convenient. I believe this one is so super cool, the programmers who created this dice are just geniuses. Okay, so it works super simple, you have to install it on your board and when it's done you put your dice this way so it's on my dashboard right now. So you add it to your game board and this is how it works. When you need to toss the dice you ask your student to click on the dice itself and choose this rolling hand and it will change the number of the dots on the dice. This feature is really valuable in your online ESL lessons because you don't have to move to different programs.

The second fun feature is this one, the flipping card feature. When your student lands on a chance space like this, you ask your student to pick one card, it can be the card on the top of the pile or any other card. So they pick it and then they click to this flipping feature and this is the way the card turns. In the original Miro there is no such feature as this flipping feature. It's super convenient and if you need those plugins you will find the link in my presentation that I will share after this session. The second objective of my lesson was to practice modal verbs and the first one was related to different adjectives. For example, we talked about adjectives with prepositions and that was the most convenient way to practice remembering those prepositions. So I decided just to use them for the chance cards.

I believe that is all about the Monopoly game, but I would like to show you two other types of games that can be designed with Miro and played with various types of students, like with adults and young students or maybe with lower levels of English students. This one is called Activity Ball and this game was shared with me by my colleague who created this template for her students. This game can be played with different levels but you always have to change the questions. So for example if you want to play with younger students you have to change the difficult questions to the easier ones.

How it works is you place different colored stickers with numbers in the bowl and ask your student to pick one number on the spot. So they pick the number and if it's green they have to go to the green sticker with the particular number and then they open it. They then have to complete the task given. As I have mentioned you can play this type of game with any other levels but you will need to vary the questions. So maybe it's a great idea to create a template and a bank with different questions and different challenges and so on. Different levels of students enjoy playing such games and this is particularly to activate their speaking skills. It is super simple and doesn't take that much time to create. The last type of game can be created in three minutes or so. Just create a frame like this. You find a png image of a character, so in my case it's Cinderella. We have to tell Cinderella what to do and this is the way we can practice different action verbs and different places around our house. I believe this game can be played with young children, teenagers, and adults as well, so it's super simple but really interesting.

I think that is all for the main part. I also wanted to show you a short video but unfortunately it's not on my presentation for some reason. I don't know why but I'll try to do that and while I'm looking for the video I would like to encourage you to share your thoughts with me. So what do you guys think about these types of games and would you like to play them or are you still doubtful? Let me know in the chat box. After I find that video I will go to the comment section and see some of your answers and share them. I can see that there are so many people today and I'm so pleased with that. I know that you are all busy and it's just the middle of the day where I am and maybe in your place it is like the evening or maybe early morning, so I am really pleased that you are with me today.

All right, I have found the video but I'm not sure if you'll hear what we were saying but I'll try my best. Maybe I will have to mute myself to show you the video. Okay, it seems to me it won't work because the file is too big, so never mind. The video is actually the way we played Monopoly with my student and the reason I wanted to share it is that we actually had more problems than benefits and to explain the main challenge I wanted to show you a particular piece of the video. I'll try to explain with my own words instead. When we started playing I was really lucky that my student knew the game rules. If she hadn't already played Monopoly I am really doubtful that we would be able to play that game because it's quite challenging in terms of explaining the rules. Although she knew the rules I had to explain every step of the game and moreover I had to explain how the equipment works. So I had to pre-teach how to use for example some clicking functions, how to install those plugins because if she doesn't install the plugins they won't work on her end. So that was the most challenging thing about that game. After we covered all of this stuff it became easier to play, however, we spent a lot of time on these technical issues so I think it would be a great idea if you explain the rules in advance. For example, you take maybe 10 or 15 minutes of your free time and make a video for your students on how to use the game, how to install all of those plugins and so on. So that when your students come to your lesson you don't waste time on those things.

With some younger students you might have to ask their parents to help you to prepare technically to play the game. As for the other games that I showed you, they are much easier to comprehend and compared to Monopoly they are not that difficult to create. So if you think that your students are maybe not technical these games would be easier. Now I want to go to the comment section and see your answers and questions.

Gwendolyn says that she's not familiar with Miro. You are actually so lucky because you can start discovering this collaborative whiteboard and it's super fascinating. You can spend a lot of time there but it's really something good to learn because the students appreciate it when teachers put their efforts into creating something for them. For example, yesterday my student was really impressed, she said like wow you created that game for me? She was super excited about all of these pictures and she was like wow you had to change all the pictures and deal with it with your own hands, it's so kind from your side. I was super impressed with that. Your students will really appreciate your work.

What's next. I'm glad to know that you guys are interested in using these games, game design is something that can be a really useful skill for us teachers. There are so many different comments here today. I know I'm usually not that fluent when explaining some of my thoughts, but every time I try my best and today I can see that there is so much feedback, so I'm super excited and really impressed. Once again, thank you guys for joining me today. I hope that the content of the session will be useful for you and it's always so pleasant to know that people find something useful and interesting in these sessions.

I can see that there are some questions related to other problems of TEFL teaching, I will come to them a bit later. Right now I would like to focus on the game design thing and cover those issues first. Lily says that Google docs is also a great resource. That's right, I know that some people prefer to create the whole classroom on Google because there is actually that website Google Classroom where you can create your space and work with the students. It's super useful and as I have already said it's totally up to you. If you prefer one particular website or particular tools you can stick to them. You can just be flexible and adjust to your own needs and to the needs of your student. Also, if you have a university email or as far as I know your work email related to a university or other schools you can get a Canva Pro or even Miro for free but you have to email them. It's really something useful to try. Unfortunately, I don't have a university email so I have to pay for it.

Okay, as for this presentation I will definitely share the link and let me do that right now. So I have just posted the presentation in the chat box so if you copy the link or if you click on it you will get to the same presentation you can see right now. You will get all of the links and all of the plugins that I've mentioned before, so feel free to use it and I hope that you will find it interesting and it will help you to make your lessons even better. I have also mentioned that I can share my template with you, so if you guys want to get the Monopoly template I can share it as well. If you want to get this template just message me on Facebook. This is my name on Facebook, you can message me there, just let me share the link to my profile. So message me on Facebook and just write in the chat that you want to get this template and I will try to make a copy and send it to you. Probably I will need your email as well. I can see that there is one email in the chat box, oh sorry I cannot copy your email from this chat box so it's better to message me on Facebook. I hope it won't cause you any troubles and it won't bother you, so just feel free to contact me on Facebook and I will create a duplicate and send this template to your Miro account.

Let me change the slide now. So today's session is slightly longer than the usual sessions but it's cool. Right now I want to move forward to the Q&A session. It's where I'm going to answer the questions related to TEFL teaching, certification and stuff like that. So if you guys are interested in taking a TEFL course with us you can get this 30% discount by scanning the QR code here or otherwise you can just quickly click on the link in the chat box and you will also get the same incentive. Let me go to the questions as I can see that there are many questions today. I want to answer them and I want to be even more helpful.

Yusef has sent a really long question so let me quickly look through it and then I will come back with my answer. Okay, so when you finish your 220-hour Master TEFL certification you have two options. You can order one certificate stating that you have had 220 hours of training or three separate certificates regarding the 120-hour standard course and the two 50-hour teaching young learners and teaching business English courses. It's up to you which option to choose, I would probably choose separate certificates just to make sure that they are quite apparent. For example, I have a 120-hour TEFL certificate and I always state on various resources that I completed the TEFL course and here is the certificate. If you create a profile on some social networks or on teaching platforms probably it would be a great idea to state different certificates to show various people that you are a professional who can focus on various groups of students. That you can teach both young learners and business English students and if the certificates are separate that will be more obvious to your potential clients. That is what I think but it's totally up to you. If you believe that you can use the one certificate stating that you obtained the 220-hour course, maybe it's better for you.

A question is asking me which website do I teach online with?

I don't teach on any websites currently. I tried italki but it wasn't easy to get into the platform. Then I also created a profile on Preply but I decided not to teach with them because they have a really big commission. It was just my decision because I found students on my own and worked with them directly without any additional third party. For me it's better to find students directly because this way you don't need to pay any commission or fees. I did an interview with a friend who works on Preply and she has a lot of students from various places around the globe and she really likes that resource. As for italki, as far as I know right now English teachers can't enter the platform because there are already thousands of English teachers on there.

By the way, if you want to find a teaching platform for online jobs you should check one of my previous live streams related to teaching platforms. It was not long ago so you can either go to Facebook and check the folder with the videos or you can go to our YouTube channel where we also have a folder related to live streams. I did a lot of research and found a lot of interesting platforms that are not that popular but still offer nice work opportunities, so make sure you check that one out. Also, my colleague Linda decided to try teaching on one of the platforms I found and she says it's really cool. It's a Korean one or maybe Japanese, it is called Cafetalk. So there are many different online teaching platforms, you just have to keep looking for the best opportunities because some of them take a huge cut and some of them offer incentives, maybe classes for self-development and stuff like that.

If you guys have any questions you can contact me via this email from the chat box or you can simply contact me on Facebook via the private messages. What else, let's see there is a long question from Moses. Well, I believe the most challenging thing about the transition between different careers would be making sure that your potential clients understand your benefits. Actually those people who come to teach from another industry have a lot of advantages. To be more exact they are related to personal experience. Teachers who have some other background might be more skilled in terms of communication and in terms of working with professionals in different fields.

I believe for people who want to start teaching it's a great idea to try to implement the experience you have already had into teaching. For example, if you are a doctor and you know everything about curing people and you want to teach English it's a great idea to focus on the same group of people. You can share your knowledge of English with other doctors. Another challenge would be proving your professionalism and this is where TEFL certification may help you a lot. For example, that was my case actually, I was not a real teacher and I didn't know how to prove that I could teach people. Although I was pretty advanced in English. So my choice was to take a TEFL course and that way I proved that I could teach.

Another question about the challenges in online teaching versus the challenges in in-class teaching. Well, when I taught in China the most difficult challenge was the language gap. So my students were really small and they could hardly speak their native language and they were quite naughty. I can't say that they were naughty really because they were just children. But the school required me to have proper lessons where I had to make all of those five years-olds sit down and keep quiet for one hour. It was almost impossible and that was probably the biggest challenge for me. As for online teaching, the technical aspects can be quite challenging because not all students are really fast in understanding these things and it requires some time to explain how to use a mouse, how to use a keyboard and things like that. Apart from that I don't see any other problems in online teaching.

All right guys, I'm going to answer the last question right now and that will be the end of this session. It has actually been one hour and 15 minutes, that's pretty long. Thank you for staying with me in this session. I think that I have already answered this question. Probably it's better to order separate certificates stating that you took different courses instead of the one that has the biggest number of hours on it, but that's just my personal opinion. Maybe it's also a great idea to ask our ITTT manager who is in charge of issuing certificates. Simply email the manager at that email address you received your notifications from and just ask them which option is better.

All right, so that is all for today. Thank you guys for joining me. Just a quick reminder if you want to have a copy of my template text me on Facebook. If you need this presentation, one more time let me copy the link and share it with you. So if you need this presentation just follow this link and you will be able to get to the Canva presentation and open all of the links I put there. You will be able to get all this useful stuff as well. The last thing to mention is that ITTT is represented on various social media. If you are not subscribed to one of these sources please feel free to do that and I hope I'll see you next week. This session was super cool, it was so active with so much feedback, so many questions. I'm really impressed and I hope to see you guys soon. Bye, bye, have a good week.

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Online ESL Game Design Workshop for Teachers
Open description to navigate through the chapters! This live session will talk about game design for online ESL lessons based on a famous board game - Monopoly. As a bonus, everyone who'll stay till the end of the event will get a Monopoly template for Mi